St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus | photo, Dilip Vishwanat

Advisory Panels

The Missouri Arts Council provides funding for arts programs in communities throughout Missouri. The Advisory Panels are a critical part of our funding process. The panelists, who are volunteers from throughout the state, review and evaluate all grant applications.

We rely on people who reflect a broad range of artistic and cultural viewpoints to bring a spectrum of knowledge and experience to the application review process. Each panel is chaired by a member of the Missouri Arts Council board.

Serving on a grant panel is hard work, but our volunteer panelists say it is worth it. Here are just a few comments from the most recent survey we conducted with our panelists:

  • “It is an honor and pleasure to be a part of a process that helps such a wide array of organizations.”
  • “This experience has been wonderful, and I’m so thankful to MAC for inviting me to participate! I’m encouraged and excited by everything these organizations are doing for the arts in Missouri.”
  • “I am so very proud to have been a part of this wonderful process! Thank you.”

Our panel system is designed to ensure that public funds for the arts are distributed fairly through a transparent process. Panelists also advise the Missouri Arts Council board and staff about policy and program development. All panel meetings are open to the public.

For more information, contact Michael Donovan, executive director, at 314-340-4740 or

Panelists’ Responsibilities

  • Evaluate applications. Each panelist reviews and scores 15-30 applications (25 on average). The total time involved ranges from about 30 to about 60 hours (30 on average), depending on the number of applications you are reviewing and how much time you spend with each application. Each application usually takes 45-60 minutes to review.
  • Participate in the panelist training and panel meeting. This takes place via conference call in March. The panel meeting, which takes place in May, lasts between one and two hours.
  • Commit to at least one year of service.
  • Optional but encouraged: Attend programs that we fund. Site visits are not required. However, panelists are encouraged to attend programs that we fund within your panel category. Our staff can often provide you with complimentary tickets to such funded programs.
  • Stipends are available to all panelists to ensure that panel positions are inclusive and equitable.

Process for Nominating Panelists

Nominations for panels are accepted year-round. We keep nominations on file for at least two years.

The Missouri Arts Council board approves the one-year term appointments.  We are unable to appoint every qualified nominee due to limited openings and the need to maintain balanced panels.

To submit a nomination, please complete the nomination form and attach the nominee’s resumé. You may nominate yourself or another person.

Criteria for Selection of Panelists

We use these criteria to select panelists and create panels:

  • Personal integrity, objectivity, and ability to work as part of a group
  • Expertise in a particular art form
  • Knowledge and experience in arts or nonprofit management
  • Familiarity with arts groups in Missouri
  • Access to technology to review applications and support materials online
  • Minimal conflicts of interest as a member of the board or staff of organizations that are potential applicants for grants
  • Residence in Missouri (except for Established Institution, Mid-Sized Arts Organizations, and Folk Arts panels)
  • Balanced representation:
    • Background, expertise, and aesthetic perspectives
    • Geographic regions of Missouri
    • Minority groups (for example, ethnicity, persons with disabilities)
    • Type of arts organization (for example, community, emerging, mid-sized, and large)

The composition of each panel varies according to grant program, and may include these types of people:

  • Arts professionals (for example, artist, artistic director, manager, administrative staff)
  • Educators (for example, K-12, higher education, and specialized)
  • Professionals and board members from non-arts nonprofit organizations
  • Community members active in a non-arts field (for example, accountant, attorney, board members, civic leader, humanities scholar)

For each panel, we select one person to serve as Panel Alternate. If a chosen panelist has to withdraw from the panel due to an unavoidable schedule conflict or last-minute emergency, we will ask the Panel Alternate to serve. We request that Alternates hold open the dates for the orientation and panel meetings in case their service is needed.

Panel Schedule

Advisory Panels will convene to review applications for the FY2025 grant cycle (July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025). Off-Year applications are reviewed by Missouri Arts Council staff for verification for eligible projects and appropriate budgets.

Through September 22, 11:59 p.m.
Prospective panelists apply for the FY2025 grant cycle.

October 2023
Panels approved and panelists notified.

March/April 2024
Panelists evaluate the application materials online based on how they relate to the review criteria. They submit their written assessment and numeric scores to Missouri Arts Council staff a week before the panel meeting. Then, for each evaluated organization, Missouri Arts Council staff average the individual scores given by each panelist, and compile a written assessment for panelists to review before the panel meeting.

May 2024
The panels meet by online conference with the panel chair, Missouri Arts Council staff, and applicants. During the meeting, panelists discuss applicants’ average scores, with the opportunity to change them. Panelists do not make monetary funding recommendations; the grant awards are determined after the panel meeting by a funding formula.

June 2024
The Missouri Arts Council board approves the funding.